Kansas and Kool-Aid: Just What Is a “Shocker?”

Woob woob woob woob...Hey, Louisville, why I oughtta...

Woob woob woob woob…Hey, Louisville, why I oughtta…

Wow, so I planned to give a quick explanation of the Wichita State “Shocker,” a mascot that, to me, resembles Mo the Stooge, angry that Larry and Curly bleached his hair while he slept. But it turns out the story is way cooler than I thought.

According to the official WSU website, a student in 1904 coined the term “Wheat Shockers” for a harvest festival football game between then-Fairmont College and the Chilocco Indians. “Shocking” means harvesting the wheat crop, which was what many football players did to earn money—and muscle—for their schooling.

Eventually the name was shortened to “Shocker,” but by 1948 it needed a face. Enter Wilbur Elsea, a junior art student—and former World War II Marine—who won the Kappa Pi fraternity contest calling for a mascot design to typify the college.

Elsea stated, “the school needed a mascot who gave a tough impression…with a serious, no-nonsense scowl.” And the Fightin’ Wheat Bundle was born. OK that’s my moniker—actually, the name “WuShock” was contributed by freshman Jack Kersting and is short for “Wichita University Shocker.”

Finally, cheerleader Dave Johnson and art department friends created the actual WuShock costume in 1954. Since then, WuShock has appeared in movies, been thrown out of a game, and even kidnapped.

But I think my favorite part of the story was a Facebook comment on the WSU site from Joanne Stephan, a 1953 Phys-Ed major at Kansas State. Ms. Stephan lamented how the woman’s role in WuShock’s story was overlooked. All that shocking required a LOT of food:

The mothers and daughters were up way before sunup getting ready to prepare a large meal for all the threshing crew…chickens to kill, peas and beans to be picked out of the garden, the old coal oil stove lit…The threshing crew was made up of the threshing crew plus neighbors to come in and help. A large meal was served to up to ten or twelve men. Of course don’t forget a snack of cookies and Kool-Aid was taken out to the crew for a break in the afternoon.

So look out, Louisville—the Shockers know true teamwork, and have men, women to angry wheat bundles, and even Kool-Aid in their corner.

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